Friday, 27 November 2015

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Wishing Tree

A conceptual wishing tree greets you as you enter the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Kalpataru is an Indian mythical wish fulfilling tree.  This one was made in Delhi by a group of artists.  Inspiration for the piece comes from nature with trees and plants used in Indian rituals being represented, including the mayo tree, banana plant, champ flower, jack fruit and lotus plant.  The parrot and bright yellow and orange make me think of sunshine.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Winter Sports

One of the prettiest ice skating rinks in London is outside the Natural History Museum.  It is always tempting but I just know I would spend more time down or clinging to the rail.  What are your skating skills like? 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A Tree?

At least the is Xmas tree is honest.  Towering up two stories high, covered in soft cute disney soft toys.  This is Xmas.

Monday, 23 November 2015

You can't escape it

Christmas craziness is well and truly upon us now.  The streets and stores are all decorated, we are bombarded daily with advertising, and the markets are popping up everywhere.

In front of the Tate Modern on Southbank a German styled Xmas Market has now appeared.  The little faux wooden huts selling everything from sausage, hotdogs, crepes and those hot alcohol drinks with names I can never pronounce.  Sweets in such vivid colours you just know they can't be good for you, trinkets galore and Santa's Grotto.....come in and make a wish.......

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Ted realises Christmas is coming

fast … and it’s dawned on me that I have missed the boat … the Christmas Cake boat that is.  Had I been intending to make my own cake I should have actually done it a long time ago and by now it should be well settled into its “feeding routine”.  Yes folks, Christmas cakes are soaks, and they need to be fed a little alcohol like brandy every couple of days, and turned regularly in their tin, right up to the time that you scoff them.

Christmas cakes are thought to have been a variation on the theme of steamed Christmas pudding when finding they had pudding dough left over some enterprising cook added a bit of flour and a few eggs and baked the mixture and voila cake. Christmas cakes weren’t actually always eaten on Christmas day, they were in fact a cake for the twelfth night, the end of the Christmas festival period around the 5th of January.  Then along came that legendary party pooper OliverCromwell and his puritan mates who banned public feasting in 1640, including a ban on Christmas mince pies. Christmas day however remained a festival day and a public holiday so cake consumption simply moved back to the 25th of December.

 There are many variations on a theme through the different countries where Christmas cake is eaten. The English prefer theirs dark and rich, laden with fruit and glace cherries, and in Yorkshire they eat it with cheese – the Doll does this too and she’s not even from Yorkshire.  The Scottish hark to a lighter model and “feed” theirs with whisky. In Japan it’s usually a sponge cake with cream and strawberries. In the Philippines it’s a bright yellow pound cake fed with rosewater, rum and palm sugar syrup. In Germany it’s stolen or “Christstolen”, in Italy, Panettone, and in France it’s a Yule log cake called “Buche de Noel”.

I decided that I would put myself in the hands of the Christmas cake making professionals and sought out “The Edmiston Sisters” and their range of traditional Christmas cake delights.  They really are 3 sisters, and they make their cakes to a secret family recipe that has been handed down and perfected over the generations. The Doll and I had to do a taste test of course and I can say that they really do deliver the rich, moist, sweet, nutty and fruity goods!! They even have a recipe on their website for an ice cream made with your left over cake crumbs … what left over crumbs???

Saturday, 21 November 2015

One Day....

The sun was shining on the Fishmongers hall giving it a lovely golden glow,  One of the oldest of the guilds with their building sitting grandly on the beginning of London Bridge.  I've long wanted to go inside and see if it is as grand inside as the exterior suggests.

It is possible on Open House days, however you have to be very organised and write a letter (yes old-fashioned writing!) to be on the list to be allowed in even on these days.  Somehow I always forget and then the list closes.  One day I will get organised and get that letter in on time.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Silver Stag

Covent Garden has a new Xmas reindeer this year.  I'm not sure how much Xmas cheer he instils, what do you think?

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A Stormy Night

Looks like more rain ahead.  A few hours later very gusty winds.  Sunshine this morning.  Add to this that the farmers are worried that their cauliflowers are maturing too early due to warmer temperatures.  I don't envy the meteorologists trying to figure this lot out.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Pomp and Ceremony

The annual event of the Lord Mayor's Parade took place on Saturday.  Despite the rain and cold wind thousands lined the street to witness this ancient event.  The square mile that is known as the City of London elects its own mayor, has its own set of riles and regulations remaining elite and separate to the rest of London.  However, it still makes for a fascinating spectacular to watch

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Ted is cured

... of nothing in particular, I've too many bad habits for that to occur. One of “those” habits that I thought was perhaps a little bit bad for me was my charcuterie "habit". Turns out it’s not quite as bad for me as I thought. 

But let’s start at the beginning. Charcuterie literally translates from the French as “cooked meat”. Over time it’s expanded its empire to include not only cooked meat but also products that are “cured” in a range of ways like brining, salting, smoking, fermenting and drying. Curing came into being as a means of preservation as soon as we became meat eaters really, and as funny as this may seem if you've ever been to Italy and seen how they simply don’t follow rules (or parking laws) it was in fact the ancient Romans who first put laws in place to govern its production.  They call it “salumi” and salami is naturally and confusingly a member of the family. 

The French also have a long history of charcuterie, so between them they started spreading their salumi and charcuterie techniques across Europe and pretty soon everyone (who really already had their own techniques and products but just didn't want another war) were swapping their local produce with everyone else – serrano ham, frankfurters, kielbasa, chorizo, bresaola, pancetta, pate, terrine, rillettes, ham, jambon, on and on … all with their regional variations. Today of course they are part of our everyday food landscape and part of the reclamation of our culinary heritage, with some pretty good stuff using very local and seasonal ingredients in the products to market – especially in England. Salami flavoured with seaweed was delicious …

However folks, cured products are concentrated and while modern fermentation techniques involve a lot less salt and chemicals than in olden days, they are still really meant to give you a big flavour burst in a small serving. I recall a lesson in this relativity from my Mother that I think applies, she told me not to guzzle a glass of apple juice straight down, but rather to think that it was the equivalent of 5 apples in that glass, so I should drink it at the same rate that I could eat 5 apples … and I think the same thinking would work with charcuterie …

But I can’t leave you without giving you a little dinner party ice breaker and a French lesson all in one for your charcuterie platter – apparently according to some learned Oxford edition ... charcuterie rhymes with bijouterie and circumlocutory.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

A Car, A Camera and the Artists

A photo mosaic made up of 650,000 street pictures, how cool is that?  The art is a collaborative pieces in which I have played a wee part.

I spent an hour driving the streetcar named Hyundai around a few of the 2,000 miles of central London streets as the installed camera was clicking away taking pictures.  I am one of many drivers who will zip around over the 50 drive of the route mapped out by the Ordnance Survey team.  My section will probably be just a couple of wee squares on that mosaic above.

However, it was lots of fun, but now let me tell you about the very cool car... it's the world's first commercially available  hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that emits nothing but water.  Really!  It doesn't look as weird as those little electric cars or as tiny.  Pretty nice to drive too (even if this one was left hand drive).

I'm all for anything that makes our air cleaner in London, imagine if all the vehicles on London's roads only emitted water!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Passing a Xmas Window

The department store windows are now decorated for Xmas and the street lights are lit.
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